Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer. She was born in the city of Enugu and studied at the University of Nigeria. Afterwards she studied in America. Many of her books are about Nigeria and Nigerian people because she is proud of her Nigerian heritage and culture.
Purple Hibiscus is set in Nigeria after it became independent. The main character is Kambili Achik, a girl from a rich Catholic family. Her father Eugene is a fanatical Catholic. In public and in church he pretends to be a generous and kind man, but at home he is abusive. He regularly beats Kambili, her mother Beatrice and her brother Jaja. He also controls what they do all day.
For a while Kambili and Jaja go to live in their Aunty Ifeoma’s house. Her family are also Catholic and not as rich as Kambili’s family. However, the Catholic lifestyle of Aunty Ifeoma is very different to Eugene. Her house is kind and encourages everyone to make themselves heard. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggests this is a better form of Christianity because Ifeoma is the same in the house and in public. She truly embodies the Christian values of kindness and honesty. When Jaja does not go to church, Eugene throws “his heavy missal across the room”. A missal is a religious book. Because he is so violent Eugene goes against his own religion.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes that “Eugene has to stop doing God’s job. God is big enough to do his own job. If God will judge our father for choosing to follow the way of our ancestors, then let God do the judging, not Eugene.” People should not focus on punishing others on behalf of God. They should instead focus on living a good religious life.
Eugene is violent towards his family for many years. Eventually Beatrice poisons Eugene. Jaja goes to prison to protect her. This makes her very depressed. Kambili falls in love with a priest called Father Amadi. He is kind and sensitive to her but does not make her his partner because he is attached to the church. After Kambili meets Amadi, Aunty Ifeoma says that “Something from God was happening there.” It is love and happiness, not violence which should come from God.
At the end of the book Jaja is released from prison. He, Beatrice and Kambili have all become stronger and more confident. Therefore, there is hope for the future.
Purple Hibiscus is about families and Catholicism in Nigeria. Eugene is a bad and violent Catholic. Because of this, he is killed and disliked by his family. This would not have happened if he had been a true Catholic like Aunty Ifeoma. In the book, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie therefore shows how being a good and kind Catholic can help you in society and make a happy family. Purple Hibiscus presents Nigeria as a country with great potential. If people care for families and societies, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sees the future of Nigeria as being bright.

FERGUS MCLANAGHAN

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1 comment

  1. Nicolas 3 years ago March 3, 2018

    What a novel!

    REPLY

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